McClain’s Mailbag: What’s the Texans’ first-down technique?

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McClain’s Mailbag: What is the Texans' first-down strategy?


The Texans were off since Tuesday and don’t go back till Monday after they begin to get ready for the following sport at Washington. They’ve were given a six-game successful streak, a 6-Three file and proceed to guide the AFC South over Tennessee (4-4), Indianapolis (3-5) and Jacksonville (3-5).

I’ve won e-mails, tweets and calls on Sports activities Radio 610 complaining about Invoice O’Brien calling such a lot of operating performs, particularly on first down. As I wrote Wednesday, he’s operating extra so Deshaun Watson can drop again much less and be uncovered to fewer hits. Working and controlling the clock units up play-action passes and helps to keep the protection contemporary.

So, as a result of your e-mails, tweets and calls, I went over each and every first down play of the closing 3 video games. When Deshaun Watson ran on first down, I counted it as a move play as a result of that’s what O’Brien known as.

As at all times, I experience listening to from readers and listeners every week. I welcome your feedback and questions. Please ship them to [email protected], and don’t overlook to position mailbag within the topic line. You can also tweet them to me at on Twitter @mcclain_on_NFL or #askmcclain.

This mailbag is at all times posted Friday morning at Texas Sports activities Country, which you’ll be able to now get in case you subscribe to the Chronicle.

Now, on with the display:

Q: Why does O’Brien run on each and every first down, particularly when it’s now not running? Does he now not notice different groups get sensible to his play calling? At the NFL’s “Mic’d Up” in opposition to Denver, defensive finish Bradley Chubb mentioned, “We knew what y’all had been going to run.” – Justin A.

A: Justin, I appeared it up, and O’Brien known as 11 move performs and 15 run performs on first down in opposition to the Broncos. At the first ownership of the primary quarter, on first down Lamar Miller ran for nine yards. Deshaun Watson finished passes of 31 and 18 yards to Demaryius Thomas. And Miller ran for two. Prior to the primary quarter ended, there have been 4 extra move performs known as on first down and two runs. In the second one quarter, there have been 3 runs and 3 passes. What you’re speaking about used to be the second one part, I believe. They’d 8 runs and two passes on first down. A few of the ones runs had been for unfavorable yards.

Q: I’m up at Five a.m. day-to-day looking forward to the Chronicle and at all times learn the sports activities phase first. I used to be happy to learn your column Wednesday referring to O’Brien’s plan on first down. I suppose what bothers me isn’t the operating each and every first down up to the effects. It no doubt can be attention-grabbing to understand what the common yards received on first down runs are from his technique. And at some point, he would possibly idiot the opposite staff, our staff and all who watch the sport by means of making an attempt a handy guide a rough move within the flat, over the center or perhaps a bomb on first down. That might indubitably catch the opposite staff – and all people – by means of marvel. – Charles S.

A: Charles, within the Denver sport, the Texans averaged 1.eight yards on first down runs. They averaged 4.2 in opposition to Miami and four.Five in opposition to Jacksonville. So the court cases must be concerning the Denver sport handiest. Within the closing 3 video games when the Texans haven’t dedicated a turnover, O’Brien has known as for 45 runs and 24 passes on first down. Within the 13-point victory at Jacksonville, O’Brien known as for 10 passes and 11 runs on first down. After they had the lead, seven of the closing 9 first down performs had been runs.

Q: How do you cope with the allegation that BOB’s play-calling is susceptible and unimaginative? At Denver, on fourth-and-1, he ran Alfred Blue directly into the pile for a loss on an afternoon that we have been operating very poorly. This is identical explanation why now we have struggled within the pink zone, I imagine. – Larry G.

A: Larry, the Texans have scored 8 touchdowns within the pink zone of their closing 3 video games. It doesn’t seem to be a subject matter any further. As for susceptible and unimaginative play calling, I didn’t pay attention anyone bitch after the 42-23 victory over Miami when Watson threw 5 landing passes. I feel everybody complaining way the Denver sport. The Broncos performed nice run protection, and the Texans had unfavorable yards on 5 first down operating performs. Right here’s why O’Brien is operating a league-high 274 instances. Within the Texans’ first six video games, Watson averaged 36.1 passes, and so they had been 3-3. He used to be sacked 25 instances and knocked down an extra 65 instances. All over that extend, the Texans averaged 28.1 rushes and 109.1 yards. Within the closing 3 video games, the Texans are 3-0, and so they haven’t dedicated a turnover. Watson, who has 8 landing passes right through that duration, has been sacked 5 instances and knocked down every other 10 instances. They’ve averaged 35 carries and 142.Three yards. He’s averaged 22.6 passes.

A large number of lovers would possibly not just like the run-first philosophy, however it’s running.

Q: Used to be Tyler Ervin’s unlock and the signing of DeAndre Carter a case of unhappiness in Ervin’s manufacturing or now not short of to let Carter break out? – The Sarge

A: Ervin used to be put on waivers and Carter claimed on waivers from Philadelphia, Byron, when the Texans had been off, so we received’t have an opportunity to invite O’Brien about it till Monday. However I will inform you what he’ll say: He and basic supervisor Brian Gaine make strikes which might be designed to make the staff higher. Carter, who can play within the slot, averaged 10 yards on punt returns. I don’t know in the event that they’ll use him in that capability or if he’s insurance coverage if Keke Coutee is gradual to go back or will get harm a 3rd time as a rookie. I know this: When it got here to returning punts, Ervin didn’t fumble. The participant who takes on that roll higher now not lose a fumble that contributes to a defeat.

Q: Do you truly assume Invoice O’Brien used to be making derogatory remarks about Vance Joseph as consistent with the video on Twitter, and do you assume Joseph will probably be fired quickly as a result of his deficient calls right through the Texans’ sport? – Jimmy B.

A: Jimmy, I noticed the clip of O’Brien strolling towards the dressing room at halftime, and the perspective used to be to the facet. I’m now not a lip-reader, so I don’t have any clue what he used to be pronouncing. And anyone who says they know what he used to be pronouncing doesn’t. Now, if the digicam used to be a straight-shot going through O’Brien, and a lip reader used to be employed to interpret, then I’d imagine it. Joseph did make a boneheaded choice to have Brandon McManus take a look at a 62-yard box purpose that gave the Texans nice box place and Watson sufficient time to get Ka’imi Fairbairn a box purpose sooner than halftime. I feel Joseph will probably be fired by means of John Elway however now not simply as a result of his choices in opposition to the Texans. It’ll be as a result of his dangerous file and dangerous choices over two seasons.

Q: I have now not learn the rest in recent years about Kevin Johnson’s standing since Aaron Wilson’s Sept. 11 article wherein he reported that the Texans would possibly believe striking Johnson on injured reserve and designating him for go back in 8 weeks because it used to be his 2nd concussion in an issue of weeks. It is been nearly 8 weeks for the reason that New England sport, any phrase? — Marilyn Okay.

A: We’ve requested O’Brien about Johnson two instances during the last 3 weeks, particularly a few imaginable go back after the bye. O’Brien mentioned now not right away after the bye. However he didn’t rule out Johnson returning this season. I imagine he’s going to.

Q: The Texans have a plethora of skill at the staff’s roster, however who do you assume are the 3 maximum impactful avid gamers at the staff? — Samuel T.

A: What a fascinating query, Samuel. Can I provide you with 4, please? Watson, Watt, Hopkins and Clowney.

Q: What’s the standing of D’Onta Foreman after closing 12 months’s Achilles tendon harm? — Edward E.

A: Edward, we’ve requested O’Brien about Foreman in every of the closing 3 weeks. He advised us Foreman may just go back to observe after the bye week. Closing week, he mentioned he wasn’t positive. He mentioned he’d tell us. When Foreman returns to observe, there’s a 21-day window sooner than they’ve to decide to go away him on bodily not able to accomplish for the season or position him at the roster. As soon as he returns to observe, he may also be activated any time right through that three-week duration. He’s going to go back in the future. With a bit of luck, for Texans lovers, he’ll be in nice bodily situation and can give a contribution to a playoff run for an offense that has a league-high 274 speeding makes an attempt.



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